Top 10 Essay Tips

10. Start early and budget your time

You've heard this a million times, but it can be too easy to let time slip away when you must juggle class assignments, work and party time. But starting early can mean simply thinking through and budgeting your time. If there is reading and research involved, then the sooner the better. Starting early will also help you deal with unforeseen problems like difficulty obtaining the required research materials or coming down with the flu just before the paper is due. Starting early helps not only to get through the work, but also to let the ideas steep into your brain.

9. Clearly understanding the assignment

If the paper topic is assigned, it is important to clearly understand the assignment. Analyse the topic word by word to understand the requirements and scope of work. You might want to underline key words in the assignment and think about how they relate to the reading and/or lectures. Figure out whether you must interpret or simply state the facts. If in doubt, ask other students or the tutor for clarification.

8. Organise your research materials and your thoughts

Not only do you have to read the materials but also you have to clearly organise the information that you are using from other sources. Start by highlighting key points and making notes of these points. As you gather these materials your thoughts should solidify. Think about how you would string this information together in a cohesive flow. Allow yourself to refine or change your approach as you amass the materials. At this point you can further organise your thoughts into an outline format. Even if your paper does not involve research you still should take time to organise your thoughts on paper.

7. Learn by Example

If you are confused about writing essays or how to approach the subject matter look for examples. Read other essays to help you understand how to organise and present the information. A great way to deal with it if you're totally stuck, is to order a custom paper from a reliable company like UK Essays. Look at how the author introduces the topic, develops the idea and provides a clear conclusion. Is there a logical approach to the paper? Does it flow like a conversation or a good lecture? How does the writer make the topic interesting? Is the language and style consistent or does seem to jump around? Later when you are reviewing your work, ask the same questions. Compare the effectiveness of your approach. You may want to look at papers with similar subject matter to be sure you are writing to standards of that particular field.

6. Don't Plagiarise

Keep track of any quotes or citations. Do not copy other people's work in any way without the proper citations. Do not simply take someone else's work and change a few words around. This is cheating and you might get caught. Also remember that there is computer software that can turn-up plagiarism too. So if you use somebody else's words or ideas you must properly site them as a source.

5. Write a quick draft all the way through.

Don’t worry too much about the introduction or conclusion. Focus on getting your ideas on paper. Double check to be sure that you get all the material on the page in some form. Write in your own voice, as you would talk to a friend. Write this knowing that you will have time to review and rewrite. If you are prone to rambling or poor grammar, you will need the time to review and rewrite.

4. Write multiple drafts

Think about whether you need to rearrange the structure. If you are an experienced writer you may be able to skip a step here. If you reorganise by cut and paste, be sure to integrate the merged sentences to flow. And look at the overall flow of ideas and words. After you have a draft or two, revisit your introduction and conclusion. Does your introduction set-up the subject and the content? Does your conclusion clearly summarize what you have presented without brining-up new ideas? Does your essay make all of the points you set out to make? Does one idea flow to another? Does the language sound natural? If you are not sure your ideas are flowing, try reading out loud. As you write more papers, your writing will begin to flow better. Continue rewriting and refining your words in as much time as you have.

3. Clarity of thoughts and economy of words

Writing concisely and clearly forces you to think more clearly. Since language is a tool to express thought, sloppy use of language may imply sloppy thinking. To make every word count, write active sentences with active verbs. But at the same time communicate with a consistent tone. Look-up words that you are unsure about so that you don’t undermine your paper with one glaringly wrong word. Take a printout of your paper and begin to cross-out words that are not needed. You may be surprised at how many words can be eliminated this way. When you do this, review the language to make sure the language continues to flow. This approach should increase the clarity of your writing but may reduce your page count.

2. Format and Presentation Count

You may be a genius, but don't count on that preventing markdowns for poor spelling, improper margins and other stylistic problems. These are marked down for several reasons, ranging from policy requirements to tutors growing tired of sloppy work. If you are unsure of your school's standards for essays you should get a copy of the guidelines and review them. It would be a shame to get a lower grade for having improper margins or footnote styles. Use a word processor and spell check the work. Print it out on paper and then check it again the next day. You may be amazed at how many mistakes you might find even after you thought the work was edited. If you know that you are prone to spelling mistakes and typos, then ask a friend or fellow student to review your work for mistakes, especially if you know a good editor.

1. Think Differently (to paraphrase Apple's marketing wizards)

Spend time with the topic and the research. Do you have an angle on the subject that differs from the tutor and sources you have read? Will the tutor give you leeway to come-up with your own take on the assignment or are you to write strictly the facts". Part of this is knowing the tutor and knowing if original thinking is encouraged or discouraged. But more importantly you must know yourself. Find the things that interest you and find your voice. If you have a unique take on the material you might want to run your ideas past the tutor. Original thinking is not as easy as it might seem. As a student you may think you have a new idea that is actually not at all original. Sometimes comparing two ideas leads to a new way of thinking that outside the box. Being original is risky, and is not always rewarded in the short run. But original thinking may also lead to rewards not only in school but also in your life ahead.


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